I recently bought a Sony Alpha 300 (live-view version of the A200). The camera is now available for around £300 with the 18-70mm kit lens. This is my first venture into DSLR photography.
I'll give you my first impressions:
From the front, the A300 is identical to the A200.
This image illustrates the articulating screen of the Alpha A300.
Sony Alpha A300: Handling
The camera feels good and nicely weighted. The body is robust and survived me dropping it!
Sony Alpha A300: Controls
Logically laid-out, but you really need to know SLR terminology to get the best for these cameras. Digesting the instruction manual is just too dull and most people will just end-up shooting in "auto" mode, which defeats the object of having a DSLR.
The 2.7in LCD screen seems fine. Some have commented on its size, but that's just splitting hairs. In bright daylight it's not the best; I guess that applies to all LCD screens. One nice touch is that the screen pivots and moves outwards on angled supports. It looks good if nothing else!
Sony Alpha A300: Performance
The kit lens (18-70mm) provides only reasonable performance. At anything less than f/8, the image is very soft around the edges. This is particularly noticeable when shooting at the full 10.2Mp resolution. A decent lens is going to empty your pockets to the tune of £300 .
The exposure level on Matrix readings, seems to lean slightly toward under-exposure by 1/3-1/2 stop. I'd be tempted to shoot anything important twice, pushed up half a stop. Shoot anywhere between ISO100–400 and you won’t notice the difference. When pushed up to ISO3200 there’s obvious noise, however that can add atmosphere if used appropriately. I have the Tamron 70-300mm lens with this camera and it’s not bad. Sharp images are achievable, even when shooting at full zoom (f/5.6). It doesn't weight too much, so camera shake isn't bad either.
I'd give 7/10 for the camera but the kit lens isn't as good.